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Only 65 percent of Arizona students have access to music and art classes

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — Only 65 percent of Arizona students in kindergarten through eighth grade have access to both music and art instruction, even though the subjects are required under the state education code, according to a new study.

The findings were part of the wide-ranging Arts Education Data Project, a partnership of between Arizona’s Commission on the Arts and Department of Education.

Department of Education spokesman Stefan Swiat told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday that when it comes to budget decisions, arts classes unfortunately are often the first to be cut.

“I think that’s just sort of misunderstanding the holistic education of the student,” he said.

“You see studies widespread throughout education that show what an important aspect art and music have in the development of children’s brains and how they function and how they develop.”

The report covered covered the 2015-16 year for 2,200 traditional public schools and charter schools combining for an enrollment of 1,107,292 students in pre-K through 12th grade.

Other findings included:

  • Most students, 82 percent, had access to some arts instruction, including music, art, theater and dance.
  • Around 68 percent of all students participated in arts education courses.
  • Participation rates correlated with poverty rates at elementary and middle schools, with it lowest at campuses where more than 75 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches.
  • Nearly 17 percent of students had no access to arts instruction. The raw number of 183,686 students was an increase of 20 percent from the previous year.
  • In traditional public schools, 68 percent of students were enrolled in arts classes. That number was 65 percent for charter schools.

Swiat said the department would like there to be “a dedicated funding source for education” that isn’t impacted by changes in the state’s economic condition.

“So in off years, if there’s any sort of economic hiccups, arts and music don’t go out the door and teacher salaries don’t go down,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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